It's no secret that AVATAR 2 has an uphill climb to convince audiences why they should return to James Cameron's mindscape of Pandora in December. With a gap of 13 years between AVATAR (2009) and The Way of Water (2022), even the most engaged audiences have questioned the need for a follow up to the highest grossing film of all time.
The race to convince audiences began this week in earnest, with Empire Magazine revealing a series of exclusive first-looks and character features from The Way of Water. Kate Winslet's Ronal, Sigourney Weaver's Kiri and Stephen Lang's Quaritch took center stage, uncovering a series of major surprises that the legacy sequel has in store for its audiences (can anyone say 'reincarnation'?)
Cameron and Jon Landau know that impressive visuals alone are not going to be enough to sell Avatar this time around. Avatar (2009) is often criticized for its simplistic plot, especially in online conversation. While it may appear that these reveals give too much information about The Way of Water, they definitively show that audiences can expect a more character-driven narrative moving forward.
Take the character Kiri, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, for example. Kiri appears to be an evolution of Weaver's character Dr. Grace Augustine from Avatar (2009). She has clear ties to Dr. Augustine but is a teenage Na'vi who has been adopted by Jake and Neytiri, the protagonists from the first film.
In the same vein but on the opposite end of the spectrum is Stephen Lang's Quaritch, who has been resurrected as a "recombiant"- a human consciousness permanently embedded in a Na'vi avatar similar to what Jake experienced at the end of Avatar (2009). While the former appears to have no knowledge of her previous life, the latter does- and you'd best believe he's none too happy about it.
For those who are familiar with Cameron's other works, this method of evolving characters between installments is a key part of his sequel toolbox. It creates a more compelling character dynamic, where characters the audience is familiar with have to grow or change to meet their new circumstances.
For critics of Avatar (2009), this may very well be the best news they can hear.
Fans can rest assured, Cameron is sure to keep enough of the plot a mystery to save more than a few surprises for audiences this December. The Way of Water's production was uncharacteristically free of leaks or spoilers, with only a handful coming to light in the entire 13 years between films. This inspires confidence that Cameron has a vision, and anything shown from The Way of Water is meticulously chosen to build excitement for a sequel more than a decade in the making.
Empire Magazine's full feature issue arrives this Thursday, July 7th. Expect more teasers and first look images leading up to the full article and until then, let us know which of these reveals was the most surprising to you! Avatar: The Way of Water arrives on December 16th, only in theaters.
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